GREAT COUNCIL OF CHIEFS APOLOGIZES TO FIJI'S RATU MARA

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 2, 2001 – Radio Australia)---Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs has presented a traditional apology to former president and paramount chief Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

Under the Fiji constitution, the Great Council is responsible for appointing the head of state.

Radio Australia correspondent Ofa Kaukimoce reports:

"The ceremony of I Vakamatanigasau -- the seeking for forgiveness -- was part of the resolutions reached at this week's chiefs’ meeting, following discussion of Ratu Mara's television interview on Sunday. (See: http://pidp.ewc.hawaii.edu/pireport/2001/April/04-30-03.htm)

"Ratu Mara was obviously not happy with the way he was asked by the security forces to step aside following the May 19th coup.

"The chiefs felt that the former president and high chief of Lau is still bitter over the May coup events.

"Ratu Sir Kamisese was not there in person at the ceremony. He was only represented by his people. Also present were government officials from the 14 provinces and officials from the Great Council of Chiefs secretariat.

"Ofa Kaukimoce, Radio Australia, Suva."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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